Dear Amy: An old school friend posts often on Facebook. Her updates are mostly upbeat, entertaining and harmless.
Over a decade ago, both her brother and her father died of unexpected illnesses. A sad situation, of course. Her mother and one remaining sibling are still alive, and they are close.
However, all these years later, she posts about her father and brother regularly, noting, "Today would have been H's 55th birthday. I can't believe he's gone ... " accompanied by pictures, including (depressingly) photos of him in the hospital. Or: "Today marks 10 years since Dad started his treatment — greatest Dad ever." Again, sad and depressing.
She always gets lots of sympathetic reactions to these posts.
It is exhausting and inappropriate to see these online pity parties of hers. Everyone suffers loss. But no one else I know insists on getting attention for those losses, especially monthly (or more!), so many years after they happened. For everyone else but her, it seems, grief is NOT to be flogged online for everyone else to see.
She is successful with a great family and a full life. Her grief is no more important, or tragic, than the losses we have ALL endured, and yet, continue she does — and it makes me angry every time.
How can I let her know how utterly inappropriate these posts are?
Amy says: Facebook's algorithm kicks into gear each day to remind users of items they originally posted about. If her family members entered the hospital, had a birthday, or passed away and she posted about it then, Facebook will remind her of these events now. She is being regularly triggered, and then she is choosing to share.
I happen to agree with you regarding what feel like beseeching entreaties for virtual hugs on social media.
But — guess what? Other people don't feel that way. And the true beauty of the freedom of expression that social media offers is this: People can say whatever they want. That includes you.
You seem to want to inspire this person to change her behavior through some magical statement you compose. But if you did that, and she wasn't too wounded to respond, she might say: "If you don't like what I post, then don't follow me!"
If you do choose to admonish her, do so via private message. Be aware, however, that she could then choose to post your statement, inspiring another round of "hugs."
Kids call out bad behavior
Dear Amy: Thank you for printing the letter from the reader who modified her behavior after her children complained about her political rants on social media.
My stereotype of a person who rants on social media is someone who just wants to reinforce their own opinions without looking at facts or caring what others think. I love having my expectations challenged.
Amy says: It's fun to bust up a stereotype.
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